The dramatic developments surrounding the independence referendum in Catalonia, as well as the plebiscite for the self-determination of Iraqi Kurds, have once again raised the issue of the lack of clear criteria in international practice for allowing the self-determination of nations and territories. This creates a breeding ground for double standards and speculative political maneuvers. And although Catalan separatism has a long and unique history, an assessment of current events shows that there are links to other regional crises including in the Balkans, where the double standards and geopolitical games have become fully apparent.
Richard Haass, president of the influential US Council on Foreign Relations, recently took an active part in discussions on these issues. In an article published on the Project Syndicate website on 29 September, four days after the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan and two days before the referendum in Catalonia, Haass writes that in today’s world, new statehood depends largely on recognition by other states. He then goes on to try to formulate his own set of standards that he believes should be applied in such situations. There are five of these ‘Haass standards’ (read: the Council on Foreign Relations’ standards): the existence of historical foundations that indicate “a clear collective identity for the people in question”; the existence of convincing arguments proving that “the status quo is imposing a large political, physical, and economic price” on the population; a clear indication by the population that “it strongly favors a new and separate political status”; an indication that the new state will be “viable”; and, finally, that secession will not “jeopardize the viability of the rump state or the security of neighboring states”.
If you look at former Yugoslavia in terms of these rules, then it is easy to see the West’s extreme haste in recognizing the independence of a number of Yugoslav republics, as well as the Serbian province of Kosovo. Among other things, there would have been no “large political, physical, and economic price” should Kosovo have kept its status after 1999 as a territory under the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo with broad powers.
There are serious issues in assessing the “collective identity” of Kosovo Albanians, whom Albanian experts themselves and the leaders of the Albanian nationalist movement have traditionally regarded as part of the Albanian ethnic group since the activities of the League of Prizren from 1878-1881, an ethnic group that is currently exercising its self-determination as part of the Republic of Albania. Indeed, the level of “collective identity” of Bosnian Muslims and even of Montenegrins is historically inferior to that of Catalans and even more so of Kurds.
No serious expert would say that self-proclaimed Kosovo is financially viable without the support of the West. According to the estimates of independent organizations, the international community gave Kosovo $2.3 billion in aid between 1999 and 2002. Between 2005 and 2008, the country received $1.9 billion, nearly half of its GDP, to carry out reforms. The amounts are smaller these days, nevertheless in 2016, according to data from the IMF, Kosovo’s budget received €173 million in “foreign financing”, which is comparable to its expenditure on pensions and other welfare payments.
As for Richard Haass’ final point that the secession of a country should not jeopardize “the viability of the rump state or the security of neighboring states”, the armed Kosovo Albanian separatism and its unilateral support from the West were directly responsible for the destabilization in other Albanian-populated regions of the Balkans and created an extremely dangerous precedent.
There is good reason why the Balkan states are now further away from joining the European Union than they were a few years ago. This was demonstrated, in particular, by the 2017 Western Balkans Summit held this summer in Trieste under the aegis of the Italian government involving delegations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo. As emphasized by Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, the EU intends to “keep open the prospect of countries of the Western Balkans joining the European Union”, but that now was not the right time and that, generally speaking, preparations for the Balkan countries to join the EU would “require a lot of time”.
There can be little doubt that the future situation both in Catalonia and surrounding Iraqi Kurdistan will reveal evidence of geopolitical maneuvers and machinations that have little in common with the interests of international stability and the aspirations of the people. As the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia notes in connection with the Catalan referendum, “the simple and stark reality is that the EU is not particularly worried about popular protests”. The newspaper continues: “Many countries achieved independence in the final years of the 20th century – the former Soviet republics, the Balkan states, and even South Sudan – but their quest for independence received the blessing of the hegemonic powers and organizations: the US, NATO, the EU, and the IMF. The collapse of the USSR and Yugoslavia was part of their strategic plans with regard to these enemy countries… The independence of Kosovo was recognized, but the separatist sentiments in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Crimea and southeast Ukraine have faced strong opposition.”
“The will of the peoples of the European Union is placed on a pedestal, but only if this will is in line with oligarchical and hegemonic interests… These interests could hypothetically change in favor of Catalonia gaining independence, but this will only happen if the Spanish government suddenly starts to pursue a socially oriented policy and tries to withdraw from NATO (no European party has ever won an election with such a program), counterbalanced by a neo-liberal Catalan government oriented towards NATO membership,” concludes La Vanguardia, sarcastically. Well, there’s certainly some truth in it.
Originally published on 2017-10-10
About the author: Pyotr Iskenderov is a Senior Researcher, Institute of Slavic Studies
Source: Strategic Culture Foundation
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]
“Neocons” believe that the United States should not be ashamed to use its unrivaled power – forcefully if necessary – to promote its values around the world. Some even speak of the need to cultivate a US empire. Neoconservatives believe modern threats facing the US can no longer be reliably contained and therefore must be prevented, sometimes through preemptive military action.Most neocons believe that the US has allowed dangers to gather by not spending enough on defense and not confronting threats aggressively enough. One such threat, they contend, was Saddam Hussein and his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Since ...
GR Editor’s Note
Moscow is accused of doping as part of a US dirty tricks campaign to prevent Russia from participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
What is the record of the US with regard to doping?
The main sports organizations including the NFL, MLB, and NBA have allowed unusually relaxed policies for performance-enhancing drug testing and punishment. The USADA is the US government agency responsible for the implementation in the United States of the World Anti-Doping Code, Yet, the record suggests that the USDA does not actively intervene in “big money sports” and often turns a blind eye ...
A few months ago I received a message from a professor at the Khomeini Institute for Education and Research in Tehran, Iran, informing me that my 2010 book “War and Empire: The American Way of Life” (London, Pluto Press) had been translated into Farsi. He requested that I write an Introduction for Iranian readers. What follows is that Introduction. Two years ago the Xinhua Peoples’ Press in Beijing, China also published a translation in Mandarin.
In the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s 1991 attempt to annex Kuwait, the U.S. deliberately destroyed much of Iraq’s water and sewer infrastructure. The Pentagon even admitted ...
Belarus is a land known also as Belorussia (White Russia, Weißrussland) in East Europe which was for centuries occupied by a Polish-Lithuanian common state until it became included in Tsarist Russia in the late 18th century. Belarus is facing many identity problems but the most important is the ethnolinguistic challenge to a separate Belarussian national feature.National identityA common national identity is a focal element for the creation of a national state as without a common identity that is based on a fundamental element of group’s identity a psychological sense of common solidarity cannot be developed. However, such solidarity is a ...
Edward S. Herman died on November 11, 2017, at the age of 92. Fortunately, it was a peaceful death for a supremely peaceful man. In all he did, Ed Herman was a tireless champion of peace.Ed Herman could be considered the godfather of antiwar media critique, both because of his own contributions and because of the many writers he encouraged to pursue that work. Thanks to his logical mind and sense of justice, he sharply grasped the crucial role and diverse techniques of media propaganda in promoting war. He immediately saw through lies, including those so insidious that few dare ...
I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people.
Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El ...
Here it comes again. As the enemies of peace continue to pressure a new US President into deeper war commitments overseas, and as Washington’s Deep State works relentlessly opposing Russian moves in Syria at every turn, the war drums have started again – beating harder than ever now, clamouring for a new US-led attack on Syria. This morning we saw the familiar theme emerge, and just in time to provide a convenient backdrop to this week’s Brussels’ ‘Peace Talks’ and conference on “Syria’s Future”.
The US-led ‘Coalition’ prepares to make its end-run into Syria to ‘Retake Raqqa,’ and impose its Safe Zones in order ...
TRANSCRIPT:Harold Channer (HC): Good evening and welcome very, very much to the conversation. We’re pleased to welcome to the program, Sean Gervasi. He is a professor and academic who is concerned with economics and particularly with what is relevant to what we want to talk about tonight. He has just returned from a long stay in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and knows something of that situation. Sean Gervasi, welcome very, very much to the conversation, and back to New York. Before we go into some detail about what in the world is going on in terms of the Balkans, from your experience ...
In late November 2013, the ‘Euromaidan’ in Kiev began as a popular protest against a generalized state of corruption and cronyism in Ukraine. The spark that ostensibly ignited the protests was the inability of then President Yanukovych to sign an EU Association Agreement that would cut Ukraine’s economic and military ties to Russia in favor of a closer relationship with the EU and NATO.The EU had made the release of former Ukrainian prime minister and “gas princess” Tymoshenko a precondition for signing the agreement. But the fact that Tymoshenko was/is a convicted embezzler of state funds, combined with the rather ...
My father was a doctor in the British Royal Navy, and I grew up traveling by troop-ship between the last outposts of the British Empire – Trincomalee, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Malta, Aden, Singapore – and living in and around naval dockyards in England and Scotland.The British naval bases where I grew up and the fading empire they supported are now part of history. Chatham Dockyard. a working dockyard for over 400 years, is now a museum and tourist attraction. Trincomalee Dockyard, where I was born, has been in the news as a site where the Sri Lankan Navy is accused of torturing and ...
The real question is not whether the status of Kosovo and Metohija should be negotiated; the actual questions to be asked are: On which basis? About what? Whom with?The sole legitimate basis is that Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia currently placed under UN mandate, pending a Security Council decision ending it. In other words, this is mandate cannot be terminated either by the EU, or NATO, the USA, Germany, or France and, should this idea ever occurred to anyone, Serbia cannot end it, either.International law (the UN Charter, the OSCE Final Act) and the Constitution of ...
Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and rejoining Russia is treated in the US-and-allied world as being justification for the explosive re-emergence in 2014 of America’s Cold War NATO alliance as being a restored war against Russia; and, so, whether or not that ‘justification’ is truthful is the paramount geopolitical issue in our era; and it will therefore be discussed and (via the links here) documented in this article.Though international law is generally an unenforced mess that is interpretable far more by partisanship than by any clearly applicable principles, the US Government does quite blatantly violate it on a routine basis, by ...
For a total of sixteen years the US has been occupying Afghanistan after invading immediately after the 9/11 attacks. This act of aggression has already become the longest war in American history, overtaking the “record” that was held by the Vietnam War that lasted from 1964 to 1975. During this period, Washington would spend over 800 billion dollars on the so-called reconstruction of the Afghan nation. As a result of this “reconstruction”, the Taliban has been regaining control over the country, which has resulted in this group controlling over 40% of Afghan territory. Additionally, opium production rates have overtaken the ...
The Balkans conflicts of the 1990s saw a massive revival and resurgence of US and Western media propaganda and infowar techniques. The “new” advocacy journalists recalled the “yellow journalism” of William Randolph Hearst, who helped induce the US to engage in the imperialistic or colonial war in Cuba in 1898, the Spanish-American War. This marked the emergence of the US as an expansionist global imperial and colonial power, like Britain, France, Spain, and Germany had been. Hearst was credited with manufacturing or “furnishing” the war in Cuba.
Frederic Remington, his correspondent in Cuba, reported that nothing was happening in Cuba, that ...
The wars in the Middle East continue to rage unabated. Over the weekend a Russian war plane was struck down by an Al Qaeda affiliated group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and once again stoked fears of widening the struggle in Syria between US and Russian proxy forces. It is yet another reminder of the ongoing and seemingly endless wars being waged in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere around the globe.Our transition into this never-ending war paradigm, fashioned out of the events of the post 9/11 era, seeks only to benefit and further cement the pre-existing alliance between the US military ...
Making negative statements concerning Russia, the Baltic States set Moscow against themselves and force it to respond. Especially they irritate it making unproven warlike statements for the sake of “common line” of the EU or NATO on the issue. But as John Steinbeck said “all war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”After major information campaign in the Baltic States aimed to discredit Zapad 2017 military exercise, Russia tries to find the most vulnerable places to hurt the Baltic States. It is absolutely evident, that such sphere is economy. For a long time Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia ...
Chemical weapons are an invention of the western war machine. Introduced into trench warfare by the French in 1915, over 190,000 tons of chemical weapons were produced during World War 1. There were an estimated 1.3 million casualties caused by chemicals during the war, with 90,000 fatalities.
Often referred to as the “Chemists War,” World War I saw the rise of chemical weapons being used on the battlefield. It all began with the French Army, who used tear gas in the form of small grenades.
These small grenades didn’t hold much gas, and were largely undetected by German forces. The French issued ...
With the March 24 ICTY decision condemning Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for war crimes, exactly 17 years after NATO began its bombing spree on Serbia, international criminal justice revealed itself once again as an instrument of US and NATO foreign policy.[They chose that the 24th of March to render judgment regarding Karadzic iquite deliberately with a view to erasing the history of NATO crimes.]If any doubts persist, it is worth remembering how the Former US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, David Scheffer, perceived that tribunal. Writing about it in his memoirs, Scheffer wrote unabashedly:the tribunal was an important judicial tool, and I had enough ...
Why Does America Keep “Losing” Its Wars?Below, we demonstrate that the U.S. keeps “losing” war after war.There are 3 potential reasons this might be happening: Is this chaos an intentional way to implement regime change and grab resources? Or is this a sign of the decline of the American empire … and we just can’t win a war anymore? Or do those in charge just not really give a damn about winning … and are they just focusing on one short-term goal after another?We’ll let you decide why you think this keeps happening. But if you don’t believe that the ...
“The earthly Kingdom is for earthly people, but the heavenly Kingdom is forever” Serbian national epic about the Kosovo Battle against the Ottoman Turks in 1389The American gangsters and the destruction of ex-YugoslaviaSouth-East Europe, and especially the Balkan Peninsula as the main part of it, have traditionally been the object of numerous geopolitical, geostrategic and publicist analyses, as well as the subject of debates among the Balkan, European and global experts in international relations. The new Iron Curtain between western and eastern Europe was not the end of the Balkan’s importance for the US administration and the NATO as well. At ...
Neocon 101: What do Neoconservatives Believe?
War and Empire: The American Way of Life
Fragility of Belarussian National Identity
Thank You, Edward S. Herman (1925-2017) – Tireless Champion of Peace
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
Reviving the ‘Chemical Weapons’ Lie: New US-UK Calls for Regime Change, Military Attack Against Syria
The Yugoslavia Counter-Narrative in 1993: Sean Gervasi, a Neglected Expert, Spoke Out in the Early Years of the Catastrophe
Euromaidan: Anatomy of a Washington-Backed Coup d’Etat
The Hidden Structure of U.S. Empire
Kosovo and Metohija is an Integral Part of Serbia
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Why would US Transform Afghanistan into a Drug Empire?
Hidden Manipulators: Who is Behind the “Kosova Independence” Campaign?
A Constant Reminder to a Constant War: Militarism in American Society
Baltic States Sacrifice Economy on Altar of Politics
These Horrible Chemical Weapons Were Created & Used During the First World War
The Destruction of Yugoslavia: International Justice or NATO “Battering Ram”
Since 9/11, the U.S. has been Involved in More than 5 Wars
The Balkans and American Gangsters
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS